Fitness and farming — it’s no surprise they go so well together

jaclyn krymowski


One of the gifts the internet has given us is an abundance of online personal trainers, fitness experts, and video home workouts. No longer are there excuses for anyone to not take advantage and pick up some degree of healthy activity … even farmers! Logically fitness and farming really do go hand in hand, but it certainly isn’t always easy to have a balanced diet and routine exercise between the demands of the daily business. Challenging, but certainly not impossible.

Believe it or not, there are lots of agriculturalists who double as internet fitness gurus. And they have practical solutions for healthy living that can fit into even the busiest of rural lifestyles. Lacey Zuck, a coach on Instagram as @cattleandcardio, understands the struggle firsthand that women especially face as they want to remain fit and healthy while catering to the challenges of day to day life.

“My platform was created as a space for my clients, FarmHERS and RanchHERs, to discuss their unique struggles with fitness, nutrition, and farm life,” she says. “It’s about learning to fuel their farm fimilies without sacrificing foods we love, juggling those men in our lives, and finding time for movement.”

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Zuck grew up “in the aisle of the dairy barn” and currently operates a small beef herd with her husband in Iowa. Like many, her fitness journey had its ups and downs, and found that going to the local gym just wasn’t cutting it with the demands of the farm. Almost three years ago she adapted the home workout programs and hasn’t looked back since.

Besides all the emotional and physical benefits of maintaining an active and healthy lifestyle, there is something to be said for enhanced productivity and energy.

“I began to notice after a while the more I focused on nutrition and health the more productive I was on the farm,” says Melissa Burns who is a coach at her company FARMFIT. She and her husband have a small farm of organic and conventional commodity crops as well as some steers and hogs. “I mean I was a machine at baling hay. No one could stop me! I also caught on to how beneficial it was for me to go to the gym or spend a few hours training at home financially. I am more capable of getting things done by myself than asking my husband, Ron, to help me. It saves us both time and money not hiring people.”

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Besides movement, part of a healthy lifestyle is, of course, diet. Those of us with an agricultural background already have a deep appreciation for the foods we eat, and we’re happy to promote and share with consumers. But learning how they all come together into a well-rounded diet takes a bit of understanding.

“There seems to be a stigma around foods we produce here in the Heartland, and farm ladies will feel me on this — ‘I’m a meat & potatoes guy’ seems to mean ‘we can’t eat healthy.’ It became my mission to prove that we could live our healthiest life and fuel with beef,” Zuck says.

To prove her convictions, she runs with Team Beef Iowa where she is able to showcase the fueling benefits of beef in each race she runs — and is happy to report she’s trimmed down a once 16-minute mile to 8:32 minutes for 13 miles at a time.

Fitness influencers are more than mentors and inspiration — they are also at the forefront of the audiences they accumulate, creating a huge opportunity to connect fitness to their other passions. This has created a ripe venue for agricultural advocacy, education, outreach and even product marketing to take place all at the same time.

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For example, Dairy Girl Fitness was started by Emily Shaw to blend her loves of health and the dairy industry An avid lifter and National Academy of Sports Medicine Certified Personal Trainer, Shaw realized her voice was in a valuable position to reach an audience in the fitness industry who didn’t have much agriculture exposure.

“I think a lot of people still have this very old school vision of what dairy farming and farmers look like, so I’m here to help update dairy’s look!” she says. “Also, in the health and fitness industry, there are a lot of popular trends and diets that promote cutting animal products and dairy out of your diet if you want to ‘be healthy.’ I wanted to show people that you can still consume dairy, achieve the results you want, and thrive while doing so.”

On her Instagram page, which reaches over 14,000 followers, she shares nutritional recipes as well as factual information about the role of dairy in a healthy diet. This has stirred up a lot of great conversation in the comments.

Fitness is a unique lifestyle that is capable of uniting and bettering so many different people. It is just one of many ways that can help build the bridges for agriculture, not to mention the many individual benefits it gives, including mental health, positivity and confidence. There are no excuses anymore — grab your phone and check out these fitness experts and the many others like them!


Jaclyn Krymowski is a graduate of The Ohio State University with a major in animal industries and minor in agriculture communications. She is an enthusiastic agvocate, professional freelance writer, and blogs at the-herdbook.com.

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